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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 12

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smcder

Paranormal Adept
Yes, and what I'm suggesting is that if the mind is a simulation/presentation/representation of nature for nature, than we should actually anticipate this seeming difference between nature and it's self-presentation.

I recently heard a little "thought experiment" that is helpful.

It asks:

"Point to your brain. (We raise a pointing finger to our head.)

Now, point to your mind."

We can't point to our mind. We are our mind. The experience we have of pointing to our brain just is our mind.

Conceptually, we might say that our mind is "in" our brain. But we know that the thing we are pointing to—our brain—is actually in our mind.

The <BRAIN> is not the same as the brain experienced in our mind. The map is not the territory indeed but the map and the territory are constituted of the same substrate.

PS I think the self-reference paradox, Gödel's incompleteness theorem, etc. is relevant to the MBP for sure. The <BRAIN> perceiving itself certainly results in the same kind of blind spots. However, my thought is that blind spot has more to do with the binding problem than the issue of feeling from non-feeling.
Nicht so schnell, Kleinchen!

What is the German word for “mind”?

Zo...wenn du asking der German wo die "mind" ist...he ist nicht an der kopf pointing...he ist on your kopf pounding! Doch!

As to self reference maybe...i haven't read all your links above...I'm sure you've checked out Hofstadter, D.

Will try and catch up soon.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
@smcder

After a long, enjoyable exploration, I have found answers to the questions I naively began to ponder in this thread years ago. The MBP and the HP, which are related but subtly different. The answers are not easy answers, as one would expect. And I accept that they are not answers for everyone.

The mind–body problem is a philosophical problem concerning the relationship between thought and consciousness in the human mind and the brain as part of the physical body. (Wiki)

The hard problem of consciousness is the problem of explaining how and why sentient organisms have qualia or phenomenal experiences—how and why it is that some internal states are felt states, such as heat or pain, rather than unfelt states, as in a thermostat or a toaster.[1] ... It is widely agreed that experience arises from a physical basis, but we have no good explanation of why and how it so arises. Why should physical processing give rise to a rich inner life at all? (Wiki)

Both problems concern the relationship between mind and body, phenomenal consciousness and energy/matter.

It is imperative to note that the concept "phenomenal consciousness" picks out a very particular aspect of mind. A very common conception of consciousness is "the state or quality of awareness or of being aware of an external object or something within oneself. (wiki)" Phenomenal consciousness (P-consciousness), however, is "simply raw experience: it is moving, colored forms, sounds, sensations, emotions and feelings with our bodies' and responses at the center. These experiences ... are called qualia. ... David Chalmers has argued that A-consciousness can in principle be understood in mechanistic terms, but that understanding P-consciousness is much more challenging: he calls this the hard problem of consciousness. (wiki)"

If one doesn't grok that distinction, one will struggle to recognize the problem.

If we accept the premise that the mind and body are related, the question is just how are they related? Are the mind and body numerically identical? Does the mind weakly emerge from the body? Does the mind strongly emerge from the body? Does the body emerge from the mind? Do the mind and body have separate origins and natures?

The answer that I have found is that the mind and body are indeed numerically identical. They are one and the same. But how can this be?

P-consciousness and mind are themselves related but distinct. The relationship is not unlike the relationship between quantum fields and particles, atoms, minerals, molecules, cells, etc. "Light is the manifestation of elementary excitations (quanta) of an underlying quantum field: the Electromagnetic Field. We call these elementary excitations “photons”. (Quora)

So what does this mean? This means that the body is to quantum fields as the mind is to phenomenal consciousness. As bodies are extraordinarily complex systems of elementary excitations, so too are minds extraordinarily complex systems of qualia.

But it still seems as if we are discussing two things, minds and bodies or quantum fields and P-consciousness. How can minds and bodies be identical if they are distinct?

Minds and bodies are not distinct. To understand how this can be so, we have to recall the common conception of consciousness: Consciousness is the state or quality of awareness or of being aware of an external object or something within oneself.

The sense that the mind and body are distinct is a direct result of the body perceiving itself. Even if one has a conceptual understanding that the mind is the body perceiving itself (and the world) the sense that the mind and body are distinct is difficult to reconcile.

To summarize:

The human organism is a system that is aware. This awareness is a product of its ability to represent the world perceptually, conceptually, linguistically, and mathematically. When the organism represents itself (self-reference) paradoxes seem to emerge. "Namely, as a self-referential computational system, the brain is unable to completely and independently represent its own states within itself. ... The experience of a brain state is never identical to the brain state. It is always more. (Epoche)"

The result is an apparent but false duality between mind and body.

But what about the Hard Problem of getting P-consciousness from non-P-consciousness?

The premise that P-consciousness arises from the body is distinct from the notion that the mind arises from the body (or rather, with the body). We mustn't confuse the contents of the mind with the substrate of the mind.

What we have is a highly complex intentional/representational, adaptive system of nature that we shall dub the <BRAIN>. This system acquires knowledge of the world in the form of genetic, morphological, behavioral, perceptual, emotional, conceptual, linguistic, and mathematical representations of <NATURE>, including itself.

Despite this organisms extraordinary ability to represent <NATURE>, to acquire knowledge of <NATURE>, this organism's representations of <NATURE> will never fully capture <NATURE>.

The map is not the territory. No matter how accurate the map becomes, it is still a map.

"In his lecture “Gödel and the End of the Universe” Stephen Hawking presented the case that Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem applies to physics and cosmology because physical theories are self-referential. After all, we belong to the physical universe we are studying. This incompleteness is evident in the fact that all our physical theories are inconsistent and incomplete and are likely to remain that way. This means that physics may never overcome the self-reference problem, and we may never attain a theory of everything (Epoche)."

But how does this relate to getting P-consciousness from non-P-Consciousness?

When a <BRAIN> perceives a <BRAIN> is sees a brain. We mustn't make the mistake of thinking that a brain is all there is to a <BRAIN>. (The experience of a brain state is never identical to the brain state. It is always more.)

Likewise, when <NATURE> perceives <NATURE> it sees quantum fields. We mustn't make the mistake of thinking that the appearance of <NATURE> is all there is to <NATURE>.

That is, we mustn't make the mistake of confusing the contents of the map for the territory; on the same hand, we must recognize that the map and the territory are nevertheless constituted of the same substrate.
 
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marduk

quelling chaos since 2352BC
Probably the first and most important lesson I've learned from my philosophical reading is that there are different interpretations of what is meant by the various terms. This includes terms like "physical" and "Dualism". That is evidenced in the link you provided which describes several different interpretations. For philosophical references I tend to prefer the Stanford Encyclopedia which delves into some of this as well:
To summarize the point, because the differences are historical and the contexts are associated with different philosophers, the discussion is then not whether one version or another is dualism while another isn't, but what sense ( or lack thereof ) can we make of specific versions, and which philosopher seems to have the best model. This leads us into another related question. What constitutes a philosopher?

In essence a philosopher is simply someone who practices philosophy. Therefore if we engage in philosophy we can rightfully think of ourselves as philosophers, which in-turn means we can decide for ourselves what the terms mean in the context of our own models. Whether our philosophy is good or bad then has nothing to do with credentials or popularity, but how coherent our views are and how well they can be substantiated by the thinking involved.

Applying that to the topic of dualism, the bottom line is that all dualism means in philosophy is that there is a contrast between the body and the mind, and how to best describe that is up to individual philosophers. Therefore it's not that one view "isn't dualism" ( as you put it ) and another version isn't. Rather, it's simply another version, and whether or not that version makes more or less sense than some other version is what defines it as better or worse.

So given that I've already stated my view on dualism, the challenge isn't to determine whether or not it's dualism, but whether or not it makes more sense than some other type of dualism, or can be disproved as a valid model to begin with. Does it contrast the body and the mind ( Yes ). Therefore it's a form of dualism. Does it make equal or better sense than other models? I like to think so. But if there's some reason to think otherwise, then let's explore that because that's what it's all about :cool:.
Hmmm... Maybe?

To use a strained metaphor, let's contrast the computer you're using with the software that's running on it.
They are both physical, but one is highly stateful and capable of changing it's state based on inputs. Hardware alone doesn't really do that - although it's possible, just in a very slow cumbersome way.

For example, Babbage's proposed mechanical computer could have been extended to be turing-complete, which is a fancy way of saying that it can emulate any other turing machine - which is essentially what you're using right now. In theory, your laptop could emulate any possible turing machine from any past or future - just to a faster or slower extent.

Where I'm going with this is that the same 'statefulness' and 'capable of changing it's own state' is possible with a non-electronic device, so there's no magic or mystery there - it's about the process being executed.

And that's basically where I'm going with consciousness. As in 'I am a Strange Loop' - self-referential systems maybe give rise to minds. It has some interesting implications, including the ability to simulate minds.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
conscious experience arises as the brain represents its own states within itself while not being completely reducible to those states. The experience of a brain state is never identical to the brain state. It is always more.
So the brain alone is conscious, experiences and enjoys consciousness, and its experience is always only of its 'states' or activities, yet is not in its own experience "completely reducible to those states." Thus the brain's experience is "always more" than its states. How, then, does the brain conceive of the 'more-than-its-states' that it somehow senses? Or is it ignorant of the 'more than'? This author's 'model' is certainly novel. It also appears to me to be a crock.

For further analysis this paragraph by @Soupie:

The human organism is a system that is aware. This awareness is a product of its ability to represent the world perceptually, conceptually, linguistically, and mathematically. When the organism represents itself (self-reference) paradoxes seem to emerge. "Namely, as a self-referential computational system, the brain is unable to completely and independently represent its own states within itself. ... The experience of a brain state is never identical to the brain state. It is always more. (Epoche)"
Quoting the whole paragraph in the cited source from which Soupie's final quoted sentence is drawn:

"Rather, as I will here argue, we should perhaps conceive of consciousness as a negative phenomenon, as something that arises from what the brain is specifically unable to do. Namely, as a self-referential computational system, the brain is unable to completely and independently represent its own states within itself. What this means is that its activity will always have a dimension that is irreducible and hence indivisible and unitary, which in turn corresponds to the conscious self."

Suddenly we have a "conscious self" in the author's model.

Farther on in the cited text:

"Thus, incompleteness is a key concept for allowing us to understand what consciousness is: As the brain represents its states within itself, it uncovers a blind spot, something present but not able to be represented from within the system in which it emerges. This is the subject. Because the subject is not itself represented, it cannot be manipulated like, for example, concepts can. Hence, because the subject is irreducible, indivisible and unitary within the brain, it is equivalent to the self. Without incompleteness, there would be no subjectivity and no self."

The newly appeared 'conscious self' is now "uncovered" by the brain to be "a blind spot" -- "something present but not able to be represented from within the system in which it emerges." So 'the conscious self, now aka 'the subject', cannot become aware of itself in this model. It is 'known' by the organism's brain to be an absence rather than a presence to the world [if there is still a world in this model], and likewise an absence rather than a presence to 'itself'. What strange new world that has such zombies in it.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
A new, brief, article from Science News, than which the comments appended are more interesting than the article itself. We might find much to discuss in the issues raised by the commentators.

Neuroscience
"How your brain is like a film editor"
The hippocampus may slice our continuous existence into ‘scenes’ suitable for storing memories
Laura Sanders
1:00pm, October 8, 2018

How your brain is like a film editor
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Hmmm... Maybe?
Not sure of the context or specifics there. Maybe better discussed over a coffee?
To use a strained metaphor, let's contrast the computer you're using with the software that's running on it.
They are both physical, but one is highly stateful and capable of changing it's state based on inputs. Hardware alone doesn't really do that - although it's possible, just in a very slow cumbersome way.

For example, Babbage's proposed mechanical computer could have been extended to be turing-complete, which is a fancy way of saying that it can emulate any other turing machine - which is essentially what you're using right now. In theory, your laptop could emulate any possible turing machine from any past or future - just to a faster or slower extent.

Where I'm going with this is that the same 'statefulness' and 'capable of changing it's own state' is possible with a non-electronic device, so there's no magic or mystery there - it's about the process being executed.

And that's basically where I'm going with consciousness. As in 'I am a Strange Loop' - self-referential systems maybe give rise to minds. It has some interesting implications, including the ability to simulate minds.
There are several components there to deconstruct, but in the end consciousness seems to be a property that emerges when specific materials are organized in specific ways. So at a fundamental level that makes it a physical phenomenon. However it's not as simple as a Turing machine because a Turing machine wouldn't necessarily be aware of what it's doing.
 

Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
I assert that my consciousness exists using “I think therefore I am” as an axiom.

I assert that the physical universe is all that exists because:

a) there is no evidence supporting the existence of a non-physical universe;
b) there are no explanations requiring the existence of a non-physical universe;
c) if a non-physical universe did exist, there is no mechanism for it to interact with the physical universe, so functionally it is equivalent to not existing;

Therefore my consciousness exists and is part of the physical universe.

Prove me wrong.
Both the future and the past do not physically exist, therefore they are not physical.
If I cease to exist, but the universe physically exists, where have I gone... I, the subjective identity, must be physical
right... or am I non-physical.
My point: the non-lhysical is relevant to the physical.
Completed physicalism must account for the non-physical to be valid
 

Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
Not sure of the context or specifics there. Maybe better discussed over a coffee?

There are several components there to deconstruct, but in the end consciousness seems to be a property that emerges when specific materials are organized in specific ways. So at a fundamental level that makes it a physical phenomenon. However it's not as simple as a Turing machine because a Turing machine wouldn't necessarily be aware of what it's doing.
Isn't there a problem with physicalism in that explanations of a physical kind are all general. Rules and principles are generalisations... things of such and such physical kind do such and such kind of physical thing. The problem is that subjective identity does not appear to be "of a kind", to our own individuated perspective; our subjectivity is of a "one and only kind".
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Any time you posit that the mind is not part of the physical universe you're relying on dualism - which is inventing a whole new universe to explain the problem of mind without actually solving the problem at all.
Who in this three-year-long discussion thread has "posit[ed] that the mind is not part of the physical universe" and thus requires the invention of "a whole new universe" to explain 'it'?

Also, what exactly do you mean to signify by your reference to "the mind"?

And what do you take to be the relationship of lived/living consciousness to 'the mind'?
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Isn't there a problem with physicalism in that explanations of a physical kind are all general. Rules and principles are generalisations... things of such and such physical kind do such and such kind of physical thing. The problem is that subjective identity does not appear to be "of a kind", to our own individuated perspective; our subjectivity is of a "one and only kind".
Exactly. Here is a paper just posted at academia.edu that is relevant to your work and to the MBP that we are once again attempting to come to terms with here:

Thomas Fuchs, The Cyclical Time of the Body and its Relation to Linear Time

The Cyclical Time of the Body and its Relation to Linear Time

"Abstract: While linear time results from the measurement of physical events, the temporality of life is characterized by cyclical processes, which also manifest themselves in subjective bodily experience. This applies for the periodicity of heartbeat, respiration, sleep–wake cycle, or circadian hormone secretion, among others. The central integration of rhythmic bodily signals in the brain forms the biological foundation of the phenomenal sense of temporal continuity. Cyclical repetitions are also found in the recurring phases of need, drive, and satisfaction. Finally, the cyclical structure of bodily time manifests itself at an extended level in the form of implicit or body memory. However, this cyclical structure of lived time comes into tension with the orders of linear time which have been increasingly established in Western societies since the modern age. This tension creates both individual as well as societal conflicts and may also result in psycho-pathological phenomena. As an example, depression and burn-out syndromes will be discussed."
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
And here is another highly pertinent recent paper, this one by Ted Toadvine whose works we have read earlier here, that develops the necessary critique of notions such as @marduk's that we can understand the being of Nature relative to our own experiential being in wholly objective terms.

"Naturalism, Estrangement, and Resistance:
On the Lived Senses of Nature"
Ted Toadvine

1. The Ambivalence of “Nature”: Naturalism
or Estrangement

Environmental philosophers have regularly endorsed two apparently contradictory views of the human-nature relationship over the last half century. The first is that humans are not exceptional; however distinctive we may be as a species, our being is a part of and continuous with the rest of nature. Despite the differences in their points of departure—Darwinian evolutionary theory, Deweyan pragmatism, Leopoldian ecology, Merleau-Pontian ecophenomenology, Whiteheadian process philosophy, and so on—environmental philosophers have converged on some variant of this thesis, which we might simply term “naturalism.” Naturalism in this sense rejects dualistic claims of human ontological exceptionalism: we possess no otherworldly soul or essence that escapes the natural order. Although environmental thinkers disagree on how nature is best understood, they are united in agreeing that it is all that there is, and so we, like everything else, are included within it. It is because this naturalism is so widely shared that environmental philosophers can, as we see repeatedly in particular debates, accuse each other of failing to sufficiently appreciate its consequences. One well-known example would be J. Baird Callicott’s contention that the very idea of wilderness “perpetuates the pre-Darwinian Western metaphysical dichotomy between ‘man’ and nature, albeit with an opposite spin” (Callicott 1998, 348). Another would be Andrew Light’s charge that labeling restoration projects as human artifacts implies a pernicious nature-culture dualism. Once we reject the “overall ontological view about the separation of humans from nature,” then the kinds of objections to restoration that Eric Katz has raised fall to the side (Light 2000, 100). Presumably, what environmentalists should learn, then—though it is apparently a difficult lesson—is that humans are fully a “part of” nature.

But at the same time, environmental theory has been motivated by the conviction that human beings—at least in industrialized societies today—are estranged from the rest of nature, with our current environmental “crisis” as the most obvious result. Indeed, for many environmental thinkers, such estrangement is part and parcel of the crisis, what ultimately drives it, and therefore what environmentalism must seek to redress. Anna Bramwell collects together nicely some of the common scapegoats for this “unnatural” turn:

'Given the paradox that natural man behaves unnaturally, what went wrong? Various explanations put forward have in common the tendency to point to a guilty party. There are several different guilty parties in common usage. These are Christianity, the Enlightenment (with atheism, skepticism, rationalism, and scientism following on), the scientific revolution (incorporating capitalism and utilitarianism), Judaism (via either the Jewish element in Christianity or via Capitalism), Men, the Nazis, the West, and various wrong spirits, such as greed, materialism, acquisitiveness, and not knowing where to stop (Bramwell 1989, 24).'

Despite this bewildering diversity of explanations (along with all the others that failed to make the list), the fact of our estrangement from nature seems essential to environmentalism as a normative position, that is, to its claim that something wrong needs fixing. And this is precisely where the air of “paradox” noted by Bramwell becomes salient. For, if humans are fully a part of nature, how is it possible—logically or ontologically—for them to behave unnaturally? How can we, while fully remaining parts of nature, estrange ourselves from it? And yet, endorsing our own seamlessly natural status would seem to entail that everything that we do and create—from nuclear waste to plastic trees—would be just as natural as anything else. If our being fully a part of nature excludes our being estranged from it, environmentalism would seem to have lost its foundation to criticize what hitherto had seemed self-evidently unnatural (e.g., agriculture, or industrial monoculture, or GMOs, and so on). More than one environmental philosopher has been caught up in this woolly tangle, expressed succinctly by Catherine Roach:

'Are humans, then, no different from any other species? If not different, then would not our skyscrapers and even our toxic waste dumps have just as much right to exist as a bird’s nest or a beaver’s dam? If all parts are equal members of a whole, what are our criteria for decision making and for promoting any one course of action over another?' (Roach 1996, 61)

Of course, there are several reasonable responses to this apparent paradox that try in various ways to minimize the difficulty, such as efforts to “naturalize” our estrangement (for instance, by making it the consequence of our idiosyncratic evolutionary development) or to reject it while providing
an alternative basis for evaluating the environmental consequences of our behaviors. The latter is Callicott’s approach when he writes:

'If we are a part of nature, then we have a rightful place and role in nature no less than any other creature—no less than elephants, or whales, or redwoods. And what we may do in and to nature—the transformations that we impose upon the environment—are in principle no better or no worse than what elephants, or whales, or redwoods, may do in and to nature. (Callicott 2003, 439)

2. Unrestricted and Pure Nature: From Verbal Equivocation
to Ontological Duplicity

One response to this apparent paradox would see in it no more than an equivocation on two different conceptions of nature. As John Stuart Mill noted more than a century ago, the concept of nature alternates between two principle yet conflicting senses: on the one hand, nature connotes “the sum of all phenomena, together with the causes which produce them;” in simplest terms, it is “a collective name for all facts, actual and possible.” In this first sense, which Mill considers the correctly scientific one, nature includes humans and all of their activities. Yet this conflicts with “the common form of speech by which Nature is opposed to Art, and natural to artificial.” In other words, and more precisely, nature in its second sense names “what takes place without the agency, or without the voluntary and intentional agency, of man” (Mill 1961, 370). In short, we use the term “nature” in two conflicting ways, the first of which wholly includes us, while the second wholly excludes us. Following Donald Crawford, we may call these two senses “unrestricted nature” and “pure nature” respectively (Crawford 2004, 313–19).

This simple distinction would seem to resolve the apparent paradox according to which humans are both part of nature and estranged from it, since it is in relation to two different conceptions of nature that we are, on the one hand, essentially included within its scope as “unrestricted” nature, and, on the other, essentially separated from it as “pure” nature. Neither the concept of wilderness nor the condemnation of restoration projects as artifacts entails a metaphysical dichotomy, since, although both ideas rely on the contrast between “pure” nature and artifice, neither contradicts our inclusion within “unrestricted” nature. The objection that “pure nature,” in this sense of a nature purified of all human agency, does not actually exist misses the point. We may very well accept Bill McKibben’s lament for the “end of nature” in the wake of climate change while continuing to affirm the applicability of the distinction between the natural and the artificial within our everyday experience. That a continuum exists between the relatively natural and the relatively artificial is perfectly consistent with recognizing that the two mutually exclusive poles are abstractions. Our woolly paradox is thus diagnosed as mere equivocation, and the cure simply requires greater care with the meaning of our terms. But the difficulty cannot be resolved quite this simply, since it immediately raises a deeper question: why does our conception of nature divide into these two conflicting senses? Perhaps this is no mere contingency of our linguistic history but instead discloses something essential to nature itself. As Kate Soper writes,

'We have thought. .. of humanity as being a component of nature even as we have conceptualized nature as absolute otherness to humanity. ‘Nature’ is in this sense both that which we are not and that which we are within.' (Soper 1995, 21).

The juxtaposition of “unrestricted” and “pure” nature, the ineliminable tension between them, and the difficulties that we have in distinguishing them suggest that the tension here lies not in our use of language but in the matters themselves, that is, in the paradoxical way that we encounter nature. Rather than aiming too quickly to resolve the paradox, perhaps we should accept it on its own terms, accept that it reflects a tension within our very experience of nature, and explore the implications of this tension. Since the experience of nature is our guide, this task requires the tools of phenomenology.

What phenomenological description reveals in this case is that the division of nature into two conflictual senses is not mere verbal equivocation but has its ontological foundation in our being and in the being of nature; in other words, the verbal equivocation is a clue to what turns out to be fundamental ontological duplicity that is the source both of our continuity with nature and of our separation from it. Of course, this means that neither of the two definitions of nature that we have already introduced will be satisfactory, so one goal of our inquiry must be to come to a richer conception of what the term “nature” names. To do so will require, first, providing an account of the experiential foundations of these two senses of nature, unrestricted and pure nature. We find that, when clarified phenomenologically, these two senses do not remain unaltered; in particular, both the “naturalism” and the “estrangement” with which they are associated must be reinterpreted. Secondly, our phenomenological description reveals that these two senses of nature are not exhaustive. Although the first two senses of nature correspond to ways that nature discloses itself within our immediate experience, there are also ways that nature shows up only indirectly, only as the interruption of or resistance to experience: first, as a quasi-transcendental resistance that is constitutive of every perception; and, secondly, as a resistance internal to and constitutive of reflection itself, a resistance that marks its possibilities and limits, its compass. Clarifying these additional senses of nature allows us, lastly, to examine the question of our inherence in and estrangement from nature in a new light. Only at this point will we be able to appreciate the fundamental and constitutive paradox of ecophenomenology as it is founded in and emerges from the phusis of our pre-reflective lives.

3. Experiential Foundations of Unrestricted and Pure Nature

3.1 Phenomenological Realism

Fundamental to the phenomenological approach to nature is the position that existence correlates with experience; in other words, it is meaningless to invoke a nature beyond the bounds of any actual or possible experience. In negative terms, this is a rejection of the realist view that nature subsists as an experience-independent reality. Such a view falls prey to what Merleau-Ponty calls the “unquestioned belief in the objective world,” that is, the conviction that the world as we encounter it pre-exists us in a determinate and complete way, simply awaiting our discovery (Merleau-Ponty 2012,5–7, 334). In positive terms, this requires us to reinterpret what is meant by “real.” When I perceive the “real” shape and color of a cube placed on the table in front of me, I do so because my body prereflectively accounts for my spatial perspective and movements relative to its sides, for the lighting and configuration of the background, and so on. At the level of perception, my body knows which presentations count as disclosing the “real” color and shape of the object, since it is oriented toward these as toward a norm that maximizes the clarity and richness of the visual field (and similarly with the other senses). The real, as I live it perceptually, has a richness and depth that allows for limitless exploration [that is] confirmed inter-sensorially, intersubjectively, and across time. When a perception fails to live up to these expectations, I no longer perceive it as real but as a play of the light, a passing appearance, a temporary illusion. For any of us, to perceive what is real—and this is the foundation for conceptualizing the real—means opening the world through senses that reflect human interests and desires, that operate at a human spatial and temporal scale, and that are informed by our cultural training and our personal habits. These are not screens between us and the real, but precisely the conditions for anything to show up for us at all. To have a world is to experience it from some point of view, according to its temporal unfolding, and through the embodied activity of meaning-making. Reality is precisely the meaning that is unfolded for us through this ongoing event. The prejudice of the objective world is possible only because the agency of our body in interpreting and synthesizing this meaning is forgotten. The realist has not truly imagined a world without anyone to experience it, a world seen from nowhere, but has merely failed to account for her own presence and perspective in this world’s disclosure. . . ."

continues on pg. 186 at this link:

Naturalism, Estrangement, and Resistance: On the Lived Senses of Nature (2017)
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Isn't there a problem with physicalism in that explanations of a physical kind are all general. Rules and principles are generalisations... things of such and such physical kind do such and such kind of physical thing. The problem is that subjective identity does not appear to be "of a kind", to our own individuated perspective; our subjectivity is of a "one and only kind".
If I interpret your meaning of "physical" as a "generalization" as being synonymous with how the meaning of the word "physical" is dependent on the context of different philosophers, then I would agree that the term "physical" is more of a convenience term. On our subjectivity being of a "one and only kind". That depends on what you mean by "kind". For example our personal experiences span a wide array of kinds. So I'm assuming that what you were getting at is that no matter what kind of subjective experience we're having, it is unique to each individual experiencer. Do I have that right?
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Another article from the online magazine @Soupie has cited that might be helpful to @USI Calgary and @marduk in their discussion of Cartesian dualism:
Thanks for the link to the material, but to clarify, @marduk and I aren't fixed on a particular version of dualism. When I use the term "Dualism", I simply mean the mind as contrasted in some way with the body. This can take a number of different forms, including the view that the mind and body are both physical but significantly different in composition and properties.

In this context the term "physical" is not synonymous with "material", as in the sort of material we identify with as being some kind of 'stuff' existing in a solid, liquid, gaseous or plasma state. Rather it's more synonymous with anything that is governed by the forces of nature applicable or potentially applicable to some branch of physics ( latin for "knowledge of nature" ) . Some of the fundamental forces of nature have been identified, and there remains a quest to unify them all in a single working theory. This parallels the contrast between monism and dualism ( or any other form of metaphysical pluralism ). Yet even if such a theory should prove itself to be true, it would not negate the reality of the radical differences between the way such forces manifest, and my present view is that consciousness is among the collection of such phenomena.
 
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smcder

Paranormal Adept
Both the future and the past do not physically exist, therefore they are not physical.
If I cease to exist, but the universe physically exists, where have I gone... I, the subjective identity, must be physical
right... or am I non-physical.
My point: the non-lhysical is relevant to the physical.
Completed physicalism must account for the non-physical to be valid
"Both the future and the past do not physically exist, therefore they are not physical."

Is the part before the therefore true? Does the part after follow?
 
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Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
Hey, the multiverse is my favourite answer to the delayed choice experiment. It just happens to almost certainly be wrong, and in any case parallel universes would either be outside our ability to interact or they wouldn't be. If they're inside our ability to interact, then they are part of the physical universe a priori. If they're outside our ability to interact with, then they don't matter.

The mind is a part of the physical universe. I should be precise in my language, by 'physical universe,' I mean:



Essentially take everything physical - mass/energy, spacetime, and all the relationships between all the configurations of all of that - and that's all there is (for the reasons I've stated above). That's it. There's no 'other stuff' that somehow magically drives anything - because if there was, then that stuff would have to interact with mass/energy, spacetime, or configurations of either to have an effect to us. And the only things that can alter mass/energy or spacetime configurations or states are... mass/energy or spacetime configurations. How could you cause particles to change without using mass or energy to do so? Magic? Throw the laws of thermodynamics out the window, because it's convenient for would-be philosophers to do so?

Think about it. If something else existed, how would it interact with the particles that make you up to notice it without being mass/energy or spacetime configurations?

If another universe bumped into ours, and information (a mass/energy configuration) could bleed from that universe into ours... then it would be part of the 'physical universe.' Just as testable, just as verifiable, just as measurable as anything else. Just another configuration.

Besides, the mind seems to be very good at one thing: the creation or transformation of information. Information itself may have mass. Think about that.
Information does not exist... btw. Think about it...
My view is that both time, space and matter are emergent features. They constitute what we understand to be "physical properties". They come under the auspices of physicalism. I am of the view that phenomenal consciousness and subjective awareness are also emergent features. Like time, they are not substantive tangible "properties"... but they do have influences on the physical world. re The mind: that is a little bit more problematic because, to my way of thinking, (as per my other recent comment) minds are of a specific unique kind and, though minds can be talk about as existing as a general kind of entity, they are individuated in a way that evades tradition physical explanation (which are about generalised principles and rules).
 

Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
@Pharoah

A study that I believe could be a reference for your work:

Plants Can’t Talk. But Some Fruits Say ‘Eat Me’ to Animals.

"For more than a century, biologists have wondered why fruits from closely-related plants have such different appearances, and how animals know which ones to eat.

The prevailing hypothesis has been that animals could have influenced fruit traits — like shape, location on a tree, presentation on a branch or odor and color — through natural selection. The easier it is for fruit-eaters to identify ripe fruits, the better the chance for both to survive. The animal eats, and the parent plant reproduces — by using the animals as gardeners — without lifting a root.

In a similar way, many flowers tailor their petal shape, color, texture or nectar’s scent or flavor to attract often a single pollinating species. Scientists accept that these flower traits could result from coevolution, because the relationships are so specific."

The problem--as always--is explaining what work the objective properties do (EM wavelengths, molecules, optic nerves, neurons, etc.) and what work subjective properties/qualities might do (colors, smells, tastes, etc.). How these properties are related, etc.

@smcder

So it occurred to me that the MBP (or paradox, perhaps) is related to other paradoxes that arise from self-reference. I haven't found any mainstream discussions of this idea, but have stumbled on a few pieces so far.

WHY THERE IS NO SOLUTION TO THE MIND-BODY PROBLEM

( @Pharoah The first one actually has a section that seems to really capture some of the ideas you have in HCT. )

"Phenomenal qualities that emerge in experience are like the intelligible meanings that emerge through the babble of spoken syllables or the squiqqles on a page. For example, viewed this way, pain can be understood to have its specific experiential quality because of its particular significance to the organism as information about the state of its tissues. As William James observed, pain can only “hurt,” since it is a recognition of tissue damage. Sugar must taste “sweet” because sweetness is a cognitive judgment about the nutritive value of sugar molecules. Ultimately, one would like to understand why the sky looks blue, trees green, and blood red—that is, why we have the subjective experiences we do in response to light of a certain wavelengths. Like the meaning of pain or pleasure, this sort of explanation must go beyond the functioning of causal systems, beyond third-person description, to include the role of semantic systems as well, from their own point of view as agents in the world. It includes the evolutionary advantages of particular intentional connections—which ride on causal connections—evolved within the extended system of brain, body, and world. The very nature of intentionality takes us beyond the science of passive matter and artificially isolated systems. Whatever the details, such explanation can only be based on the reasonable assumption that cognition is neither entirely determined by a world of external causes, nor entirely by the organism's internal symbolic connections and conventions. It is rather an interaction in which organism and environment meet to contribute to the creation of experience, meaning, and behavior.

The Incomplete Self: Gödel and The Brain – Epoché (ἐποχή)

"We typically think of consciousness in terms of what the brain does. This is logical because a functioning brain is a precondition for consciousness. Strangely, however, a century of neurobiological work have not brought us closer to understanding what consciousness is or how it relates to the brain (Michael O’Shea The Brain, A Very Short Introduction, 2005). This may be a clue that the brain does not give rise to consciousness in the same sense as when a machine churns out a product. Rather, as I will here argue, we should perhaps conceive of consciousness as a negative phenomenon, as something that arises from what the brain is specifically unable to do. Namely, as a self-referential computational system, the brain is unable to completely and independently represent its own states within itself. What this means is that its activity will always have a dimension that is irreducible and hence indivisible and unitary, which in turn corresponds to the conscious self." ...

There is an important analogy between Gödel’s discovery of incompleteness of consistent formal systems and the emergence of consciousness within the brain. Just as self-reference reveals that formal, consistent mathematical systems always contain intrinsic true statements about those very systems that are unprovable within them and are hence incompletely reducible to the systems’ other operations, conscious experience arises as the brain represents its own states within itself while not being completely reducible to those states. The experience of a brain state is never identical to the brain state. It is always more.

@smcder, I wondered if you would be willing and able to dig anything up?
That plant fruit thing makes sense to me. The environment includes the living, each evolving and influencing the other... as expressed in my paper regarding generational discourse.
 

Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
If I interpret your meaning of "physical" as a "generalization" as being synonymous with how the meaning of the word "physical" is dependent on the context of different philosophers, then I would agree that the term "physical" is more of a convenience term. On our subjectivity being of a "one and only kind". That depends on what you mean by "kind". For example our personal experiences span a wide array of kinds. So I'm assuming that what you were getting at is that no matter what kind of subjective experience we're having, it is unique to each individual experiencer. Do I have that right?
yes
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
Information does not exist... btw. Think about it...
My view is that both time, space and matter are emergent features. They constitute what we understand to be "physical properties". They come under the auspices of physicalism. I am of the view that phenomenal consciousness and subjective awareness are also emergent features. Like time, they are not substantive tangible "properties"... but they do have influences on the physical world. re The mind: that is a little bit more problematic because, to my way of thinking, (as per my other recent comment) minds are of a specific unique kind and, though minds can be talk about as existing as a general kind of entity, they are individuated in a way that evades tradition physical explanation (which are about generalised principles and rules).
What features are non-emergent?

"Like time, they are not substantive tangible "properties"... but they do have influences on the physical world."

How? What is the causality?

Does "time" have tangible effects, or is time a measure of those effects? of change? When I say "her beauty was subject to the ravages of age ... and yet persisted" do I mean that TIME acted on her ... or that she aged and we can measure both?

"The mind: that is a little bit more problematic because, to my way of thinking, (as per my other recent comment) minds are of a specific unique kind and, though minds can be talk about as existing as a general kind of entity, they are individuated in a way that evades tradition physical explanation (which are about generalised principles and rules)."

Each mind is of a specific, unique kind, you claim, correct? Unique even from other minds. My kind is not yours? Then how do we know one another?

How do they evade generalized principles and rules? Can you give examples? The key claim is to evade "traditional" physical explanation but what is that? Do you mean Descartian push/pull / tinker toy causation? Do you mean the most modern available bio-logical explanations? Do you mean beyond what anyone is currently arguing? The fact that we have theories of mind, that we understand each other and anticipate each other points to generali(z)sed principles and rules - even if they are only in each others minds ... people even predictably go off the rails - we can point to physical features in the brain, past behavior, all sorts of things -
...
And if we stimulate region x, do we get predictable, repeatable effects on the mind, on subjectivity? Obviously, these studies are complex and we've been all over the Libet experiments and free will.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
USI Calgary said:

If I interpret your meaning of "physical" as a "generalization" as being synonymous with how the meaning of the word "physical" is dependent on the context of different philosophers, then I would agree that the term "physical" is more of a convenience term. On our subjectivity being of a "one and only kind". That depends on what you mean by "kind". For example our personal experiences span a wide array of kinds. So I'm assuming that what you were getting at is that no matter what kind of subjective experience we're having, it is unique to each individual experiencer. Do I have that right?

Yes. And I would add that only the sheerest hubris could lead any scientist or philosopher to claim that the continually unfolding panorama of human, and animal, experiences in and of this world can be reduced to and explained by a reductive and mechanical conceptual explanation.
 
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